As I look back on my life since the time I placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ over 30 years ago, I find that my Christian experience has been undergirded and sustained by 3 basic disciplines –
- Meditation in the Word of God
- Praying in the Spirit and worship
- Consciousness of God’s presence
Meditation in the Word and prayer in the Spirit need no further elaboration as they have been dealt with extensively both in my messages and in every good Pentecostal church in general. I do find, however that clarity is needed on what is meant by “the consciousness of God’s presence” because it seems to be such an intensively subjective experience and not something that is clearly explained in the Scriptures. I also hope that this explanation would serve to make the topic clear and help fellow sojourners in their pursuit of God.
As human beings, we are primarily governed by our senses, our experience of life is determined by our senses, we are sense led. These senses are those of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. The information we receive through the senses is processed by our minds, emotions and wills, which in turn determine our reactions, attitudes and behaviour. The 5 senses are functions or perceptions of the body while the mind, will and emotions are the functions of the human soul. The Bible speaks of another aspect to man, which is his spirit. The spirit of man is who he really is. It helps to see man as a spirit who dwells in a body and has a soul. When the spirit of man is present in the body, the soul is able to function. When the spirit departs, the body is dead. The Word of God tells us that God created man of the dust of the ground, breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living soul. Here, you see that the soul began to function when the spirit entered the body. The spirit has a sense too. The spirit is able to sense or be conscious of supernatural beings or places. The spirit of a person without Christ is spoken of as being “dead” in that it is unable to either sense or commune with or know God. Upon receiving Jesus as Lord, man’s spirit is made alive and is able to be conscious of the presence of God, good and evil, angels and demons, light and darkness.
As Christians, we are primarily able to be conscious of God through our spirits. We are able to be conscious of God’s presence in our bodies – we experience the effects of God’s presence in our bodies; look at John falling down in the presence of Jesus as though dead. We are also able to be conscious of God’s presence in our souls; a sudden sense of deep peace or joy (In His presence is fullness of joy). Remember the priests could not enter the temple Solomon built because the glory of God had come upon the temple. The glory of God was something tangible, a spiritual substance that prevented them from physically entering the temple.
Upon salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to take up residence in our spirits; He is the one who makes our spirits alive. We are immersed in the Holy Spirit when we receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit; He endues our spirits with supernatural power. Now, in addition to our physical senses, we have a spiritual sense that is activated; this spiritual sense can be conscious of the supernatural world. The Bible says that we can only know God in our spirits. The things of God are understood in our spirits; the natural man does not understand the things of God because they are spiritually discerned. Our spirits are fed with spiritual food, the Word of God and spiritual water, the Spirit of God.
Since God dwells in our spirits, we should be conscious of His presence at all times, right? Well, no! We are conscious of His presence at certain times such as prayer, worship or a church service, but not all the time. The reason is because sense knowledge so governs our lives that it takes a conscious effort to prevent sense knowledge from interfering with the functioning of our spirits. One of the biggest battles we will face is the battle where the soul fights to keep the spirit subservient to it. The Word of God is able to sever between soul and spirit; sometimes, it takes a crisis to break the grip of the soul over the spirit. Emancipation here, however enables the spirit to dominate the soul and body. That is how God intended us to function.
Now, getting to “the consciousness of God’s presence”. You must have gleaned by now that this is a discipline. We learn to allow the spirit to dominate the soul. We learn to look beyond what the senses tell us – tune ourselves to what our spirit is trying to say; tune ourselves to listen to our spirit and to the Holy Spirit who dwells in our spirit. God’s presence is within us, discipline enables us to be conscious of His presence not just during times of prayer or worship but during the routine affairs of life. Decisions we make are now not only determined by what our physical senses tell us but by what our spirits tell us. I never make any major decision unless I have checked with the Holy Spirit who dwells in my spirit and with the Word of God. God’s presence is not just within us, it is also manifest when the church is gathered together and when the Spirit chooses to manifest Himself. There will be occasions when God’s presence is imparted to us in a greater measure either to equip us or to reveal Himself to us or to meet a specific need or simply to satisfy the longing in our hearts.
The more we practice this discipline, the greater will be our experience of God and the greater our stability in this Christian life. The other disciplines of meditation in the Word, worship and prayer boost our consciousness of God’s presence. It does go without saying that there ought to be a conscious refusal to allow our minds to be occupied with the things of this world, every thought must be taken captive and brought under submission to the Lordship of Christ. The devil easily keeps people from this experience by keeping them occupied in their minds, and by throwing his fiery darts at the mind. Not for nothing does the Bible show us that the mind is a battlefield. Most of your battles are waged in the theatre of the mind. Anything less than victory here will keep you in a perpetual state of mediocrity in your pursuit of God. Praying in tongues and meditation in the Word are great assets in establishing and sustaining this victory.
I am just sharing what I believe will help other Christians in their walk with God. I may have left some terms unexplained due to space constraints, but I hope to have explained the topic sufficiently to stimulate thought and spur you to lay hold of this experience.
I certainly do not speak as one who has attained or as one who is perfected but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. I have a long way to go in this discipline of being conscious of God’s presence, but am glad to have begun and to have made some progress here.